Let’s face it: Sometimes we need to sound more intelligent than we actually are. Whether it’s for an interview with a potential employer or the need to have the last word in an argument, a great vocabulary is vital for sounding smart… er, I mean, perspicacious. Implement these 20 words and phrases (complete with contemporary examples) in your everyday speech and your diction will become more sophisticated, cultured, and most importantly… smart!
Avant-Garde: [uh-vahnt-gahrd] –noun
The advance group in any field, especially in the visual, literary, or musical arts, whose works are characterized chiefly by unorthodox and experimental methods
Example: Lady Gaga’s avant-garde sense of fashion continues to awe many of her fans.
Bravado: [bruh-vah-doh] –noun
A pretentious, false display of courage
Example: The cheerleader was full of bravado at practice, but became extremely nervous when she stepped on the field.
Caustic: [kaw-stik] –adjective
Severely critical or sarcastic
Example: The frat boy made a caustic remark when he told the pledge to take a day off.
Ennui: [ahn-wee, ahn-wee; Fr. ahn-nwee] –noun
A feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom
Example: The three-hour lecture produced an unbearable ennui among the students.
Equanimity: [ee-kwuh-nim-i-tee, ek-wuh-] –noun
Mental or emotional stability or composure, especially under tension or strain; calmness
Example: Despite the fact that she had two exams on the same day, the student retained a sense of equanimity.
Esoteric: [es-uh-ter-ik] –adjective
Understood by or meant for only the select few who have special knowledge or interest;
Example: The inside joke was full of esoteric allusions.
Fait Accompli: [fe ta-kawn-plee] –noun
An accomplished fact; a thing already done
Example: The football team’s win was a fait accompli long before the kick-off.
Fastidious: [fa-stid-ee-uhs, fuh-] –adjective
Excessively particular, critical, or demanding; hard to please
Example: Mr. Johnson’s class is usually avoided because he is known for being a fastidious grader.
Hedonist: [heed-n-ist] –noun
A person whose life is devoted to the pursuit of pleasure and self-gratification
Example: She enjoyed the entire box of chocolates because she was a hedonist at heart.
Idiosyncratic: [id-ee-uh-sing-kruh-see, -sin-] –noun
A characteristic, habit, mannerism, or the like, that is peculiar to an individual.
Example: The sky-high “Poof” is an idiosyncratic part of Snooki’s image.
Idyllic: [ahy-dil-ik] –adjective
Charmingly simple or rustic
Example: The students enjoyed the idyllic nature of Thanksgiving break.
Kitsch: [kich] –noun
Something of tawdry design, appearance, or content created to appeal to popular or undiscriminating taste.
Example: The Justin Bieber record, while unashamedly promoting commercial kitsch, still has a decent beat to it.
Maudlin: [mawd-lin] –adjective
Foolishly sentimental, tearfully or weakly emotional
Example: After a few cocktails, the lonely girl wrote a maudlin text message to her ex-boyfriend.
Nouveau Riche: [noo-voh reesh] –noun,
A person who is newly rich
Example: 50 Cent was not invited to the gala because the hosts found him to be an uncultured nouveau riche.
Panacea: [pan-uh-see-uh] –noun
An answer or solution for all problems or difficulties
Example: The professor’s economic philosophy is clever, but he shouldn’t always use it as a panacea.
Quintessence: [kwin-tes-uhns] –noun
The most perfect embodiment of something
Example: The student’s thesis expresses the quintessence of his argument.
Red Herring: –noun
Something intended to divert attention from the real problem or matter at hand; a misleading clue.
Example: The murderer in the novel was revealed at the end after a few red herrings.
Scintillating: [sin-tl-ey-ting] –adjective
Witty; brilliantly clever
Example: The show, Californication, is filled with scintillating dialogue and hilarious puns.
Teetotaler: [tee-toht-ler, tee-toht-] –noun
A person who abstains totally from intoxicating drink
Example: After what happened over the last year, I wouldn’t be surprised if Charlie Sheen became a teetotaler.
A private conversation or interview, usually between two people.
Example: When the other housewives weren’t looking, Vicki and Tamra had a tete-a-tete in the corner.
To improve your diction, use words in your everyday speech. But remember, “in promulgating your esoteric cogitation’s or articulating your superficial and sentimentalities and amicable philosophical or psychological observations, beware of platitudinous panderosity.”